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The ’90s Revisited: Robin #1

90s_revisited

robin001Big Bad World

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editors: Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil
Cover: Brian Bolland
Published by: DC Comcis
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

I’ve read this issue before. This might even be the third time I’ve read it–I’m not sure at this point. But for this particular read-through…it came about because I wanted the POSTER that was bound into the issue, without having to rummage through a bunch of unsorted longboxes–so I bought a copy just for the poster. But since I was "handling" the issue, I decided to read it…and quite enjoyed it overall, though unfortunately not quite as much as I’d thought I would.

I’m pretty sure this issue picks up essentially from the pages of a Batman issue, as I seem to recall a scene of Tim debuting the new costume before Bruce and Alfred; but that’s clearly already happened by the time this issue opens.

We open on Tim in the Batcave with Bruce; wearing the then-new (but now highly familiar to me) ’90s Robin costume–the red body, wide yellow belt, green pants, tall/dark boots…and the stylized "R"; as well as the two-colored cape: yellow on the inside, the classic yellow; but black on the outside, so he can wrap into it and blend into shadows same as Batman…not "glow in the dark" or such. The two discuss Tim’s readiness TO be the new Robin, in a bit of Tim’s doubt that I don’t quite remember, but fits for the time. Tim decides to further ready himself, now that he’s "passed" Batman’s training is to take his own journey to train with others in preparation for his role. He heads to Europe, where we quickly learn that another figure from Batman’s past is active: Shiva. Meanwhile, Tim finds the master he sought, though some details aren’t as he expected. He gets drawn into a situation that calls for what Robin can do, that Tim Drake can’t, and gains a potential ally, even as he considers what it’d mean to fail, to let down the Batman.

Which is all a grandiose, vague summary of the issue. It’s interesting to consider a number of "firsts" at the time this was released–first action in the new costume, first "solo" Tim Drake adventure, Tim’s first issue as Robin, first issue of any series–mini or otherwise–of the solo-billed Robin title, etc. And I’ll be doggonned if I am aware of any variant covers. Really! All these firsts…and other than (perhaps) a second printing or such, or maybe some kind of foil-y something or other that I’m not consciously aware of at present, this is THE issue. Period. One cover. One issue. A Brian Bolland image.

Story-wise, this is a very solid first issue. Though I mentioned recollection of a scene preceding this, that’s not integral to this issue. We simply pick up on Tim in costume, apparently freshly made officially Robin, and through dialogue get a bit more detail to fill in gaps on his background and our getting here. He’s given a ‘quest’, we’re introduced to threats and antagonists in addition to the self-set challenge, and get drawn into the story.

I said above I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would–it’s a good issue, and fairly enjoyable in and of itself; certainly nostalgic…especially for me. But that’s part of the problem. One of Tim’s first couple cameos before his full appearance in A Lonely Place of Dying was my first-ever Batman comic…this character was introduced AS I got into comics, and is still around. But this issue by itself–not re-reading the lead-up, not having the rest of the issues handy nor the time to read their contents in one of the TPBs, this is just a snippet of early-Tim Drake stuff. And since this isn’t an ongoing series but "merely" a finite five-issue story, there’s less "need" for the kind of hook an ongoing might need…and I think I frustrated myself not being able to just read the whole story handily in one go.

robin001_posterThe art is quite good, and rather iconic to me. Looking at this, it just screams "early Tim/Robin" to me. The cover isn’t horrible…but the way Robin’s face is, this has gotta be one of the creepiest-looking Robins I can think of! The costume, cape, etc work…but the face just doesn’t fit Tim. I also like that the "corner art" seems to be a carryover from what I recall offhand of the main Batman issues, cementing this as what it is–its own thing, starring Batman’s sidekick, but in a solo title that does NOT emphasize Batman.

If you find this in a bargain bin–or heck, find it for $2 or under, I highly recommend it! Particularly if you’re a fan of Robin, or specifically Tim Drake. But I’d recommend trying to acquire the entire 5-issue mini-series rather than just this isolated issue.

Unless you want the poster…in which case, that ALONE is worth at least a couple dollars!

robin001_blogtrailer

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The ’80s Revisited: Captain Atom Annual #1

captain_atom_annual_0001The Dark Side of the Force

Writer: Cary Bates
Co-Plotter: Greg Weisman
Penciller: Pat Broderick
Inker: Bob Smith
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Duncan Andrews
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: 1988
Cover Price: $1.25

I’ve long been aware of Captain Atom, and have even read some issues here and there with the character. I believe he was in some Justice League (America) issues; I know he was in Armageddon 2001; I read at least most of the Captain Atom: Armageddon series he was in, blowing up the Wildstorm universe some time back; there’s the parallel with Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen…and of course, the character’s brief but pivotal role in Kingdom Come, to name a few offhand. I think I may even have read the first issue or two/few of his 1980s ongoing series at one point, though I don’t consciously remember much beyond the basic origin (so I probably read it around the time I read Watchmen back in the early 2000s).

Going through a stack of comics recently, I happened across this issue–certainly a quarter-bin find–and it struck me as interesting "in the moment" to read due to the cover proclamation: "Enter: Major Force!" I’m more familiar with Major Force as the character that killed Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend (stuffing her body in the refrigerator) back in the early days of the new direction for Green Lantern. Having briefly revisited that era recently in covering the Zero Hour crossover, I was all the more curious about how long the character had been around. This issue seems either a first appearance, or at least a post-Crisis on Infinite Earths (CoIE) first appearance. Given the character tying into Captain Atom’s origin and some guessing, I’m pretty sure this is the first appearance of the character.

The issue opens with a conspiracy-theorist radio show, the host talking about a corroborated incident of a UFO crashing in a quarry. We then move to Captain Atom arriving on the scene, and something emerges–an alien creature that the Captain winds up fighting. Meanwhile, an anonymous Major joins the scene, and we see that events are being manipulated to create an apparent origin of a new super-hero: that of a Major helping Captain Atom and being fused with an alien creature. When, in fact, this is the result of a later experiment like the one that created Captain Atom, but with different variables…and the "alien" is in fact another test subject. Due to his position and government involvement, Captain Atom goes along with things, introducing/endorsing this new guy to the public…as they get Major Force. Predictably (this comic is from 28 years ago!) Force doesn’t "work out" in the role of super-hero, as his methods are violent and don’t account for innocents/civilians. When CA tries to rein things in, the Major fights back. Captain Atom emerges from the battle victorious…though in its course he seems to have made a decision, delivering his message ("I quit!") along with the unconscious Major Force to his government handlers.

The issue has page numbers, with the story ending on a page numbered ’39’ so this is basically a double-length issue. As an Annual, it’s a ‘special’ issue, with a bigger story (but relatively self-contained) than just another issue of an ongoing series. Being from the late 1980s, and evaluating this (having read it), it seems to be an Annual from when such things "counted," and were truly a bonus or special issue along with the ongoing run, and having stuff important to the character’s ongoing status quo. In this case, the issue seems to be the point at which Captain Atom has had enough of just going with the flow and taking orders, and after seeing what the government/his handlers are up to, he can’t stick around simply accepting the status quo.

As an Annual (and a first one, at that), I figured this to be a decent sort of one-shot, though a lot of that comes from my own experience with comics, and DC history/continuity. We don’t get a lot of context/background on Captain Atom or a supporting cast in this issue, but we do get some slight references such that knowing what I do, it all fits.

I’m good with the art–it neither blows me away nor disappoints…it just "is." This looks and feels (visually and story-wise) like an ’80s comic, and something to it (such as the introduction of a character I know gets used more and in key ways years later) feels a lot LIKE the start of a new super-hero universe…which at this point, the then-current DC Universe essentially was. And I like that.

The story itself is decent, and seems to draw on existing continuity (at least from the Captain Atom series) and expects the reader to at least somewhat know what’s going on; introduces a new villain/antagonist or opposite version of the hero with an origin, background, some character/world-building, and ultimately resolution…while leaving things open for later use of the character as well as modifying the status quo (presumably, at least!) for the ongoing series. I notice that quite unrelatedly, this is the second issue in the last few days I’ve read written by Bates (the other was Action Comics #428) and am pretty sure the co-plotter (Greg Weisman) is the same who eventually did Gargoyles for Disney years after this.

For an issue that I only paid a quarter to purchase, this was definitely a good value for the time it took to read, and I enjoyed adding this piece to the puzzle–I’ve now read the introduction of Major Force and this also re-kindles a bit of my interest in the early Captain Atom series (I believe I have the first year or so of issues SOMEWHERE in my collection).

While this issue won’t hold the reader’s hand, it’s a solid piece with a nice length, and is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the title character, villain, or this period in DC‘s history. If you find it in a bargain-bin–MAYBE up to $2ish–its well worthwhile. At a higher price, I’d say you’d have to really have a specific interest in this, rather than anything casual.

Zero Hour Revisited – Catwoman #14

90srevisited_zerohour

catwoman_0014Broken Mirrors

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciller: Jim Balent
Inker: Bob Smith
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: Bobpin
Consulting Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I was looking forward to getting to this issue, as I only vaguely recall owning (and presumably reading) the first issue, and the two KnightsEnd tie-in issues. This would be the first issue of this iteration of Catwoman that I’ve read in years, and after not caring for New 52 stuff, I figured it’d be interesting and a bit refreshing to see the "classic" ’90s costume, etc.

But then very shortly into the issue, I got sidetracked at catching a couple errors that I feel should have been caught in editing, that put me off a bit and dropped this a few notches in my esteem. The story itself is ok, but by the end of the issue, I felt like I’d missed something somewhere, as even being unfamiliar with this version of Catwoman, stuff still seemed a bit outta-nowhere to me.

Catwoman completes a new heist–stealing some sort of ornamental/antique bed dedicated to Bast, a cat goddess. She sleeps, and when she wakes, she’s in the middle of Zero Hour (though those words are not used and there’s no telling she has any hint of that story going on). The city’s gone feral–or prehistoric–and instead of her tame house-cats, she’s got a sabre-toothed tiger as a pet; instead of a butler she’s got a barbarian in her place, and…yeah. Making the best of the situation–and the excuse to don her outfit indoors–Catwoman leaps into action. She and her new barbarian friend find themselves trying to save the prehistoric cat from a hunting party, and then out of nowhere, Selina grabs the guy for a kiss, and the world goes white.

I can appreciate the adventurous hijinks of having Catwoman team up with time-displaced stand-ins for Marvel‘s Ka-Zar and Zabu, and definitely like that–by way of acknowledging this title’s place in the event–we see Selina viewing multiple versions of herself in a multi-panel mirror and all. And in a way, this having virtually zero context for me–it does not seem continued FROM the previous issue, and other than the fade-to-white signifying the end of Zero Hour #1, this doesn’t seem likely to necessarily CONTINUE to the next issue (but what do I know, having never read the #0 or #15-onward?). So on one hand it’s a "fun" sort of stand-alone/one-off story. Establish Selina/Catwoman. Change the environment, introduce shirtless-guy and ancient kitty, move into cliché story of pet wild animal being hunted. Sure. Then the kiss and…that’s it. So despite "fun" randomness, I’m just NOT *impressed* by this issue.

Visually, the art is good…though I may be biased (particularly recalling back to my 13-year-old self)…this is a book that I’d simultaneously say we wouldn’t get "today" and yet in some ways, I think we WOULD with a certain on-page sexiness and suggestion being more acceptable nowadays than 20-some years ago. And at least in retrospect, I realize that where I’ve often prided myself on having AVOIDED the "bad girl comics" until last year’s Aliens/Vampirella…I think I had a brush with them in this ’90s Catwoman title.

That said, this issue is certainly no necessity for the reading of Zero Hour itself…but it’s a fun-ish one-off. It does somewhat walk a thin line of being somehow gratuitous with that skin-tight costume leaving nothing to the imagination and yet being fairly acceptable for what it is (hey, at least she’s covered and not showing bare skin all over–it’s a Code-approved comic, after all!). I don’t recommend the issue in and of itself–it’s not something to track down. But as with so many of these tie-in issues…if you’re working on a run of the series, or this event, etc. it’s not necessarily something to AVOID.

The issue’d be worth 25-50 cents or so, but not something I’d pay cover price for, and maybe not even something I’d pay $1 for. Still, having read it, it has me curious about the series itself and thinking if I found a run of the series in the cheap-bins, I’d be inclined to snag ’em.

Archie #606 [Review]

Yesterday Today Tomorrow / Career Weak / Unflappable

Scripts: Michael Uslan, Angelo Decesare, Craig Boldman
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Bob Smith
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Coloring: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Dan Parent
Published by: Archie Comics

Archie is one of those comics that seems to stick to a status quo far moreso than any other comics I can think of offhand–even more than super-heroes such as Superman or Batman, which can seem to at least take a year or two to deviate from status quo now and again.

I picked up Archie #600 not solely because of being a legitimate milestone (no reboots, restarts, disassemblings, etc en route), but because it was the first of a 6-issue story. Unlike the digests the publisher puts on regulalry, this wasn’t just some “theme” for a bunch of gag shorts and whatnot–it was six issues of full-issue-length ongoing story featuring the Archie mainstays. Archie of course, Betty, Veronica, their families, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Midge, Pop Tate, Principal Weatherbee, and the other usuals. We’re familiar with them, we know who they are and what they’re about, and they can carry full-length stories.

This issue bills itself as an Epilogue, as a “Part 7,” whereas the Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty/Will You Marry Me? story was for six issues billed as __ of 6. So rather than jump off as intended with #605, I picked this up, because I thoroughly enjoyed the 6-issue arc, I figured one more issue of follow-up couldn’t hurt.

Boy, was I wrong on that. This issue returns to the multiple stories per issue, with the stories more gag-oriented and predictable than being solid character-drivin stories.

The main feature is the follow-up to Will You Marry Me, as the guys give Archie a hard time for his notion of having seen a future where he married each of the girls, and sees him booking a date with each for the same night, and the fallout from that when the girls bump into each other on their way to meet up with Archie. The next short sees a bunch of gags as Archie supposedly embraces different potential careers, to the distress of his parents. Being a diver, or a painter, a mechanic, or a zoologist are all things that would be interesting to see Archie embrace–I’d gladly read a series of issues where each one sees the kid attempt to get into these career paths–but they have no real depth as given here with just a page or two per idea. And the final short sees Archie going ga-ga over a new girl, and tries to do everything he can to annoy Veronica so that she’ll break their date, freeing him to go with the new girl guilt-free.

The art isn’t bad in this issue–it’s “standard Archie,” the visual style we’re all used to for the various characters…no complaint there. It’s the lack of serious, deep story combined with a cover that led me to expect another issue like the previous six that makes this issue quite a stinker. If you’ve been following this title solely for the “big story,” there’s no need to get this issue–it adds NOTHING to the previous six issues. If you prefer your Archie with short gag-driven stories, though…this one’s for you, and you can freely ignore the huge “Part 7” displayed on the cover. As for me, I’ll wait for the next longform “special” arc.

Story: 3/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 4/10

Archie #605 [Review]

Will You Marry Me? part 6 of 6 – Archie Marries Betty: “Happily Ever After”

Script: Michael Uslan
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inks: Bob Smith
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics

I bought into the hype from two angles. One…it was Archie #600…and the title had gotten there legitimately. No reboots or restarts and funky number-playing across multiple series that were intentionally made distinct for the purposes of renumbering, mistake or otherwise. Two…it was the story of Archie FINALLY choosing one of the girls, and doing the right thing by her. He was choosing Veronica, for better or worse (I’ve always rooted for Betty). So imagine my surprise when the story swerved at the end of Chapter 3, showing that instead of 6 issues of Archie marrying/being married to Veronica, we were actually getting two 3-parters under the banner of “__ of 6.”

Also of note is the title of the story. I’d initially thought it was “Archie Marries Veronica” based on the cover; but as said above, obviously that changed halfway through. This issue states on the cover “Archie Marries Betty” and the chapter title, as well as the “Part 6 of 6.” Inside the issue, however, we find an ad for the graphic novel Archie in “Will You Marry Me?” billed as “The complete 6-issue story arc!” at the top of the page. There’s also the fact of that ad existing–here, in the final issue of the story, the company is trying to get the reader to order the collected volume of the story they’re holding. Sure, I expected this–I bought these single issues despite knowing full well there’d be a collected edition–I had to wait for that edition on the recent Freshman Year arc, and if they collected that I knew they’d collect this. Still…the Archie books being what they are, chances are that many people buy just a random issue here and there, and so would not have all 6 chapters.

“Gripey” as that may sound, it’s not much of a gripe. This is a decent conclusion to a decent story. Why it’s not “great” is that it’s something that can’t truly matter long-term in the Archie comics without radically altering the status quo and the nature of the series. This puts me in mind of the silver-age Superman stories focusing on one of many alternate Earths; such as the one with the “Super Sons” or any where Superman actually married Lois. So, this is an “imaginary story” within the Archie universe. And as has been said of these “imaginary stories”… “Aren’t they all?”

Archie and Betty have returned to Riverdale after their year away…both to teach at the high school. They reunite with old friends, and discover a number of other changes. Jughead and Midge are married (and Jughead bought Pop’s as Pop was retiring); Moose is calm and mature…and Reggie and Veronica just got engaged. The story follows the young couple dealing with these events, and then the birth of their twins, Veronica and Reggie’s wedding, as well as life afterward–dealing with “grown-up stuff” in the form of juggling work, the kids, and some sort of social life. And then the story ends on the reverse note the 6-parter opened with…perfectly fitting.

The story is fairly simplistic and formulaic, of course. There’s some drama, but nothing that’s really drawn-out (if it were, I could imagine this one issue getting stretched to 6 issues itself!). There’s a lot of character stuff and forward momentum, and even time for that ending. While hardly complex–and certainly not apologetic about the means by which the story was achieved and then left behind–I really don’t feel cheated nor let down. Heck, this story is one that would make a great tv mini-series of sorts…basically do a pair of movies that make the one big movie. One movie for each of the girls as the bride of Archie. It’d be great if the story was “timeless,” but there are some elements thrown in that date the story–including a reference to “stimulus money,” which firmly roots this in the present. Aside from those references, though, the story is fairly timeless, not actually giving any hard dates for things…just a walk on Memory Lane.

The art is standard Archie style; none of the “New Look” stuff (good as those stories are). The only real complaint I have with the art is the cover–something about Archie’s proportions seems “off” a bit, and overall, he doesn’t look quite right, and I’m not sure why.

I don’t recommend specifically seeking this issue out if you haven’t either been following since #600, or #603. However, if you’re at all a fan of Archie, Betty, and/or Veronica…I highly recommend considering the graphic novel.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Archie #601 [Review]

Archie Marries Veronica, part 2: The Wedding

Script: Michael Uslan
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inks: Bob Smith
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Goldberg and Smith
Publisher:Archie Comic Publications

Second issue in, and the story’s even better (perhaps because we’re into the thick of things, with no silly walk-UP-memory-lane as the vehicle to facilitate an “easy out” of this major story).

This issue sees the wedding itself of Archie and Veronica, with a lot of great moments, cliche though some may be. We see Archie and his groomsmen dealing with the woes of tux-fitting, while Veronica and her bridesmaids have a fitting of their own. The couple-to-be shares some concern over what their future is to be. Then we get the “core scene” of the issue in the wedding–with a double-page splash of the big moment, a couple of full-page shots, and then a montage (including the classic Archies’ song “Sugar, Sugar”) that perfectly captures “a wedding.” The tail end of the issue moves the story ahead a year as we find the newlyweds facing another new step in their lives as Veronica shares some significant news with her husband.

All told, there’s not too much to be said on the art on the surface. It’s got that classic Archie style to it, and all the characters seem perfectly recognizeable to me–even if I couldn’t tell you their names offhand, they’re visually familiar from one thing or another of Archie I’ve read in the past. The declaration of the newly married couple and the full-page panels that followed reminded me of the Superman Wedding Album issue and took me out of the story a bit, as I noticed these as being those (newly) “iconic” images that would seem more appropriate for marketing than within the pages of this story. Still, one does not really get to have those double-page splashes, even for huge/important moments in real life…so getting them in a comic isn’t that bad a thing–especially as double-page splashes or even a full-page image seem such a rarity for an Archie book (in fact, I can’t think of any Archie story in the past that has had such pages).

The story itself isn’t terribly complex…but it definitely rings true to life. I’ve been to a number of weddings the last few years as a number of friends have gotten married, and the montage found in this issue made it easy to connect to the characters and the experience. There’s still some drama and conflict…even questions…as the story goes along, but they seem to be the usual sort of human drama…wondering how relationships will be affected, or seeing the various relationships play out in the shadow of an event as important to two lives as a wedding is.

What struck me as particularly interesting with this issue is the Betty/Veronica relationship. The two have always been rivals–one might argue that the rivalry is built into the fabric of the characters themselves in the Archie-verse– but I’m not used to seeing them portrayed as having such meaning to one another…that this is played up a bit does great credit toward making the characters more well-rounded and believable.

All the good of the issue not to say it’s without cliche…there’s nothing particularly shocking–even the issue’s end (while done as a cliffhanger) is only natural in a story like this. The nature of the story at hand allows for such huge things since we’re invariably going to be returned to the status quo after this arc is complete. But while I’m confident I see what the ending will be since the beginning of the arc, the ride is still very enjoyable–so much so that I’m honestly probably going to be disappointed to see the status quo return.

Perhaps Archie comics are aimed at kids…but these are not “just” for kids by ANY means. I’m a 28-year-old male…and I’m enjoying this arc as much or more than most other comics I’m reading these days. If you can find the first isue of this arc, I highly recommend giving the story a chance…whether you’ve ever read an Archie book before or not, if you know anything of the characters, you should have no trouble following right along.

While the story and art taken alone don’t rank quite as highly…this issue’s rating is based on the whole, which is greater than the parts.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 9/10

Archie #600 [Review]

Archie Marries Veronica, part 1: The Proposal

Script: Michael Uslan
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inks: Bob Smith
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Goldberg and Smith

I missed out on the LAST “event” in the Archie title–Freshman Year. Though I ultimately snagged the collected volume, and generally prefer collected volumes…this was a story I decided I’d go ahead and try the single issue(s).

We begin at the end of the kids’ high school career–graduation day is upon them–and see them reacting to the impending changes to their lives. We get what seems to me an incredibly stupid/cliched plot device to hop a few years into the future to the gang all just about to graduate from college. With all the changes about to happen, Archie proposes to Veronica (who accepts) and the wedding-planning goes into full-swing while Mr. Lodge begins planning Archie’s job/career (having hired Archie to ensure the kid can afford to take care of his daughter).

The story is really pretty simple…but there’s a surprising amount of depth hinted at…stuff that probably won’t jump off the page at anyone, but for someone who has been through a high school graduation/friend-dispersal and two college graduations and all the changes that come with ’em…it’s easy to identify with the mood if not specific characters. I actually expected this story to be half an issue, tops…with some sort of backup shorts to fill the issue out…that this six-issue-arc would maybe be what I’d normally consider 2-3 issues’ worth of content as to the Archie-Marries-Veronica, anyway. Instead, this is the entire contents of the issue–from first page to last, it’s an ongoing narrative…something I’m not used to with Archie books.

THe art is really not distinctive…it’s in the classic “Archie style” (as opposed to the “New Look” that gives the characters a more real-world appearance). If you’ve seen any Archie comic, you probably know the “Archie style.” It’s what you picture when you think of the character or the supporting cast. Simplistic, sure, but the characters have their individual appearances that make them recognizeable if not downright iconic (such as Jughead with that crown of his). Given the classic style, that this doesn’t seem to break from that, I have no qualms whatever with the art…it simply is what it is, providing the look/feel I’m used to with Archie books.

On the whole, this was quite the enjoyable book. It’s been years since I’ve read any longform Archie stories (the shorts/one-pagers being what I’m used to from the occasional digest picked randomly in more recent years), and this issue has me chomping at the bit to see what comes next. That stupid/cliched plot device–while being what it is–is quickly forgotten as the real story kicks off (yet I’m pretty sure that plot device is going to be important to the resolution at the end of this arc–to restore the status quo I’m sure the publisher will not permantently deviate from.)

This would seem to be a great jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers as well as the ongoing readers. There’s also the fact that this is quite the anniversary issue–#600 to be exact–and said anniversary is celebrated by beginning this story, rather than by extra pages, variant covers, higher prices, or other what-have-yous. It’s a standard-size issue for the standard price ($2.50) which makes it quite a deal in the current comics market.

Highly recommended!

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

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